Johannesburg - Gauteng Education MEC and provincial ANC deputy chairperson Panyaza Lesufi says he refuses to be intimidated by "threats" from Vodacom over calls to boycott the company until it compensates Please Call Me inventor Nkosana Makate.
This comes as lawyers representing Vodacom on Wednesday sent Lesufi and #PleaseCallMe movement convener Modise Setoaba a cease-and-desist letter, ordering them to desist from calling for a protest at any Vodacom premises as well as making "false and defamatory comments" on the legal dispute between the company and Makate.
Lesufi posted the letter on Twitter, telling Vodacom to "bring it on" and that he won't be bullied into silence by the company.
Bring it on @Vodacom ! I am NOT easily intimidated. You can’t bully me or silence my support to the weak and vulnerable. This is a democratic country and I have the right to express my views without fear. The apartheid regime detained me without trial . I am not scared! pic.twitter.com/E62GnxFiJ8— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) January 30, 2019
He further said in an interview with 702 that he won't be deterred by the "threat" and would not respond to the issued letter.
"The mentality that every time we protest, we're going to be violent... it's a wrong and loaded mentality," Lesufi said.
"They gave me 12pm to respond... I'm not going to respond because I don't have information about the negotiations, I've never met Nkosana (Makate), I've never met Vodacom," he said.
Lesufi denied claims he'd called for a shutdown, saying he was merely expressing a view on the ongoing saga.
On Wednesday, Lesufi, the #PleaseCallMe movement as well as the ANC Liliesleaf Farm branch held a briefing during which they gave Vodacom until 10 am on January 31 to resolve the dispute with Makate or face mass action.
Makate worked for Vodacom in the early 2000s and took the idea of the Please Call Me service to the company’s product development team.
For 18 years he has been involved in legal proceedings and negotiations in a bid to get compensation for his idea.
In 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom had to begin negotiations with Makate for a reasonable payout.
Earlier this year, Vodacom offered Makate what it said was “reasonable compensation”.
Makate rejected the offer, calling it an insult, and said he was consulting a legal team on how to take the matter forward.
Vodacom has since said it considered the matter finalised.IOL